Phipps Conservatory Opens Botany Hall Demonstration Kitchen

Phipps Conservatory is now offering garden to table classes and camps in their new state-of-the-art Botany Hall. The new hands-on culinary programs will be available for all ages, year round!  Participants will get to discover new ways to prepare foods while supporting the Phipps mission of advanced sustainability and human and environmental well being.

This sounds absolutely amazing to me.  I’m always looking for new idea and cooking techniques.

Picture Credit: Phipps Conservatory

Celebrate Tomato and Garlic Day on Sunday Aug 26, 2018 while enjoying the annual outdoor market on the front lawn of Phipps Conservatory. While you’re there sign up to attend one of the cooking classes in the Botany Hall Kitchen:

  • Dazzling Summer Spreads for adults
  • Fresh Salsa and Sopes for families with kids ages 6+
  • Tasty Tomato and Garlic Gnocchi for kids ages 8 – 12

Limited space so advanced registration is required:


Have you ever wanted to try cooking something different? What about vegetarian? Making your own hot sauce? or something different for date night? Expanded upcoming culinary arts courses now available for adults include Vegetarian Indian Cooking from Scratch: Fall Flavors, Make Your Own Hot Sauce, Date Nights for Foodies with Chef James Kaufmann from Café Chocolade and Risotto at Home with Chef Red from The Porch.

Kids’s aren’t excluded! A full line-up of engaging kids cooking programs are also available, including these fun Kids’ Night Out Cooking Classes for ages 4 – 8 and 9 – 13:

  • Culinary Art — Fri., Sept. 14
  • Fall Harvest — Fri., Oct. 12
  • Nature Configurations Cooking Class – Fri., Nov. 9

Learn more and register for culinary programs at:


The Botany Hall Kitchen can be found on the first floor of Botany Hall at Phipps. It accommodates 18 students per class. The instructor’s cooking station has cameras and monitors for close-up and multi-angle views. You’ll find state-of-the-art LED lighting and energy star appliances, energy efficient HVAC, and non-toxic building materials to meet Phipps’ greenest LEED® and Living Building Challenge certified structures.


If you’re never been to Phipps Conservatory and Botanical Gardens in Pittsburgh it is truly a site to behold. Seasonal flower shows, community events, and more.  They even have a corpse flowers.  If you don’t know what it is visit Phipps website.


We Attended British Soccer Camp

One of my children received free camp tuition through US Family Guide in exchange for this post. I did pay for the other child to attend because they both wanted to. Any opinions expressed are my own.

My littlest ones, ages 9 and 5, love soccer.   They play in the AYSO league locally.  My oldest son also had the opportunity to play indoor soccer in the fall through a different league. Anything soccer, they are into it.  We had heard of Challenger Sports British Soccer Camp before but this is the first year we gave it a try.

My daughter did the “First Kicks” program geared towards learning basic soccer skills for the little ones. She had a small group with only two other little girls but she made friends with these girls and had a blast.  Every day when I’d get home from work she’d ask “Is it time to go to soccer camp yet?”

First Kicks was only an hour long so it was a perfect program for 2- 5 yr olds.  They got a lot of individual attention and coach Abby and Coach Jason knew them by name after the first day or so.  The coaches were so good with the kids and my daughter just loved them.  My daughter is very outgoing and friendly.   They answered her questions, listened to her stories and goofed around with her when she would try to play.

My 9 yr old son did one of the half day camps.  We chose the evening half day camp since it worked better with our schedules.  My son is the opposite of my daughter personality wise in that he is rather shy and tends to keep to himself.  But my son had already made a friend on the first day and he was just as excited to go back each day as my daughter.

There were more kids in my son’s age group with a mix of boys and girls.  Kids from several different school districts were there so my son met a lot of new people.  The older kids were also given homework.  One night they had to research a country and give 5 facts about that country.  They had a to pick a country in the World Cup.   Another night they had to make a flag for their country they chose.  So they learned a bit too.

The half day camp for the evening was 3 hours.  They had so many activities, games, and skills to do with the kids that it seemed they were playing a few new ones each day.   It was neat to see how the games incorporated certain skills of play.


I have a video of my daughter in the First Kicks program too on Facebook:

The first day of camp was super hot for us here in Pennsylvania.  It was in the low 90s.  After that it rained every day so they did the rest of camp in the school’s gym that was hosting it.  It didn’t seem to matter to the kids one way or the other.

At the end of camp they gave all the kids a certificate of completion with a hand written note of encouragement and it pointed out their strengths which was really nice.

Because we registered early the kids got a British soccer camp soccer ball, T-shirt, and two different soccer jerseys.  They also have access to the skills app.    So if you ask me if the cost of the camp is worth it. I say, definitely yes.  Learning new cultures, skills, making new friends, being active for 3 hours a day at least.  So many benefits.

There are still camps available. Check the site to see if there is one in your area. REGISTER FOR CAMP & GET A JERSEY, BALL, T SHIRT & NEW SKILLS APP AND 20 FREE VIDEOS!
Enroll in the most popular soccer camp in North America! British Soccer Camps have programs for all ages and abilities and feature an innovative curriculum full of skills, drills, and thrills! Register now and you will not only get your free British Soccer game jersey (value $34.95) shipped to you for free immediately, but you will also get our brand new skill development App and 20 videos to help your child practice at home. Your soccer ball, T-shirt & poster will be given out at camp. USE CODE BSC18 at check out to get free shipping.
To Enroll:

Keep Track of Your Kids During Summer Break with MamaBear App

This post is sponsored by MamaBear App. Any opinions expressed are my own.  Prize is sponsored by Mamabear app

I’m a mom of 4.  I also have anxiety issue.  2 of my kids are teenage boys. They run around all summer with their friends, ride bikes, play football, and hang out with their girl friends.  My boys are pretty good about checking in with me via phone every so often.  Sometimes though there is a delay with replies if they’re into a football game or don’t here the text go off.

Admittedly sometimes I wonder if they really are where they say they are.  If I need to get a hold of both of them I have to send them each texts or phone calls individually.  For some reason, I have issues with my texts at times (I really need to talk to my carrier about that).

But there is an app called MamaBear that can help give me some piece of mind and it’s a lot more affordable than you might think.


What is MamaBear App?

It’s a family communication app.  You can add your whole family to the app.  Once everyone has the app downloaded you can do a lot of cool stuff with it.

  • Enter in safe places, like a grandparent’s house for instance, and when they stop at their house you get a notification that your child is there.  On the other hand, if there are places you absolutely do not want your child to go, you can plug those in too and the app let’s you know that they are there as well.
  • Monitor your child’s social media. You can put in keywords for the app to monitor and if those words show up in their social media it can alert you.
  • Send messages to the whole family with the family messaging system.  I actually find myself using this more than I thought. Even for little things like letting the family know when supper is ready.

  •   If you have a teen of driving age you can set speed notifications.  If your teen surpassed that speed you’ll get a notification.  lol I actually got a notification the other day when my 14 year old son was on the bus and the bus drove past our house!

  •  There is also text message monitoring. Unfortunately at this time it seems to only be for android users and we all have iphones.
  •  Maps allows you to see where your child is too.
  • Very affordable. There is a free option for ads which everyone can use.  But a paid ad-free subscription is available in monthly, 3 month, and 6 month subscription plans. 6 months is only $24.99 total.  For as much as this app does and the peace of mind it can give, it’s a real bargain.  More affordable than a lot of apps out there.

How can I get the MamaBear app?

MamaBear is available for both apple and android devices.  Visit for more info, subscriptions, and download links.


5 winners will get a code to unlock the premium version of the app (no ads for you!)

US only

MamaBear App Giveaway 5 winners!

Planning for Emergencies While On Vacation

This post is sponsored by Diamond Links.  Any opinions expressed are my own.

We’re getting ready to head to Topsail Island, NC again this year. We always drive. It’s about a 10 – 11 hour drive with rest stops for us.  The last time we drove down though, I saw something that will forever be blazed into my memory.

It was roughly 4 am and we’re on the beltway near DC.  Not quite as much traffic to deal with at 4 am on the beltway as there would be during the day.  I saw a few cars pulled off to the side, I saw a motorcycle on it’s side and as we drove past I saw a person in a motorcycle helmet on the ground motionless. I won’t describe anymore because it was very shocking to see at 4 am.  I remember looking back at the kids. They had been quiet for a while so I was hoping they were all sleeping and they were. Thank goodness.


I’m someone who over-prepares.  But this situation got me thinking about what we would do if we were in an accident while on our way to the beach…or any time for that matter.  I took some steps for preparedness.

  1.  I filled out the health information on my iphone. I wondered if anyone really looked at that but I’ve been told that yes, if they can access it first responders will look at this information.
  2.  I changed some of my important contacts. Instead of having names I put things like husband, dad, etc to make it easier for someone else in an emergency.
  3.  When making a checklist of things to take on vacation, things like: health insurance cards, vehicle insurance cards, dental insurance cards, etc are checked 3 x
  4.  I let a few close extended family members know when we’re leaving or heading back. I do check in on facebook at certain rest stops to help with location finding.
  5.  I have the name and number of trusted law firms like Hunter Law, P.A. in my phone so I could call right away if I’m physically able.  I’d have enough to worry about at that time, I’d rather let the experts handle it.
  6.  Getting our vehicle checked and make sure maintenance is up to date before the big drive.
  7.   Keep a car safety kit in the car with things like road flares, jumper cables, etc
  8.   Take a baggie to keep in the car with things like car sickness medication, Tylenol, anti-diarrhea medication, and any other medication that may be needed individually. Make sure if it’s prescription medication you have it in the prescription bottle or have proof of the prescription.

What tips do you have to plan for a emergency while on vacation?

5 Ways To Save Money On Your Family RV Road Trip

If you’re a frugal person and if you’re planning a family RV road or camping trip, you’ll
probably find this article to be of much use to you.
Even though an RV trip should be cheaper in contrast to other travel options (such as flying and
staying in hotel rooms), that doesn’t mean that it’s an inexpensive endeavor. On the contrary, it
still is expensive.
Fortunately, there are a variety of methods you can use to save money on any RV road or
camping trip, and by using more than just one of these methods your savings can really add up to
a significant amount.

Here are five ways you can save money on your family RV road trip:

1 – Actually Plan Ahead
There’s just no better money saving tip than this one: actually plan ahead. Those who plan ahead
have much greater odds of saving cash versus those who just rent the first RVs or campgrounds
they see.
This means actually doing your research and learning about every RV that is available to rent so
you can compare rates. The same goes for renting campgrounds. A seemingly minuscule
difference of ten or fifteen dollars for daily rent can really add up, especially if your trip is going
to be a long one.

2 – Travel During Shoulder Season
‘Shoulder season’ simply refers to the time of year when travel costs, including rent and fuel,
tend to be much lower. It’s also known as the ‘off season.’ As an added bonus, you’ll also have
to contend with smaller crowds, which can always help make your trip more enjoyable.
Examples of shoulder season include late spring or early fall, when the large crowds are less
likely to travel than they are during the summer. Yes, this means that the weather may not be
quite as nice, through it may be worth to you if it means saving a lot of money.

3 – Avoid RV Parks and Campgrounds
Who says you have to stay at RV parks and campgrounds? Not only are RV parks often very
busy, which means you may not get all the privacy you desire, they also cost money.
A night at a decent RV parks with amenities such as laundry and Wi-Fi should cost between $30
to $50 a night. That’s cheaper than most hotel rooms, but it’s still an expense that can add up. A
week long stay at a RV park priced at $35 a night will cost you $245, for example.

In contrast to this, boon-docking (or parking your RV on public parks outside of RV parks)
doesn’t cost you anything. Sure, you don’t get all of the same luxuries that certain RV parks
come with, but what you do get is more space alone to yourself and possibly several hundred
dollars of saved cash in your wallet. Is it worth it? That’s up to you.

4 – Don’t Eat Out (At Least Not Often)
Eating out constantly is one of those seemingly harmless expenses that can really start to add up.
If you’re serious about saving money on your trip, then bringing your own food and preparing it
in the kitchen your RV provides you with will be a much more cost efficient option.
Not only that, but you can also prepare foods that are already cheaper to make. For example, it’s
probably cheaper to make chili and soup that feeds everyone versus making cheeseburgers for
each individual person.

5 – Compare Fuel Stations
Fuel is one of the largest expenses of any RV trip and you simply can’t avoid the fact that
motorhomes are not the most fuel efficient vehicles on the planet.
But what you can avoid is paying for fuel at a gas station that is priced higher than another gas
station just around the corner.
When the time comes to fuel up, use a fuel app to research all fuel stations within a certain mile
radius. Even if the difference between stations is only one to two cents a gallon, that can really
add up when you consider the fact that RV’s hold a lot of gallons (as in around a hundred and
fifty on average)

Saving Money On Your Family Trip
These are just a handful of the ways you can save money on your RV trip. Using each of these
methods together, you should easily be able to save several hundred dollars, if not over a
thousand, for the trip.


Guest Post by Susan Melony